Beef tongue 牛タン

japanese cake

Beef tongue is not a very popular food in the U.S. It is more popular in Europe, South America including Mexico (“Lengua”). It is also much more popular in Japan where it is served thinly sliced and grilled. This dish called “Gyuu-tan” 牛タン is famous in the city of Sendai 仙台 located in northern Japan. My wife having grown up in PA dutch country, said she really liked the beef tongue she ate as a child, served as cold cuts particularly in sandwiches. Her favorite was tongue lunch meat that came from the local Ma&Pa grocery store down the street. She just remembers it as a sort of square shaped loaf that was a very tender and tasty meat.

Several years ago while we were in Sendai, we had the famous local delicacy grilled “Gyuu-tan” 牛タンの塩焼き which was served with “Ox-tail soup” or “te-ru su-pu” テールスープ. The meat was kind of chewy. My wife said it was nothing like what she had growing up and we did not like it. I have seen beef tongue from time to time at our regular grocery store. (Based on the labeling I’m assuming it is directed toward the “latino” clientele). I mentioned it to my wife and she was enthusiastic to get it so that we could recreate the beef tongue she remembered as a kid. The other day, I found a rather small tongue and got it. The below is sort of taste test. This appears to be very close to what she remebered.

This is basic preparation and other dishes can be made from this.


Whole beef tongue (#1), washed well and bottom fat removed (#2).

One medium onion, coarsely cut up

2 bay leaves

Several whole black pepper corns


In a duch oven, add enough water to cover the tongue

Add the onion, bay leaves and pepper corns and boil gently for several hours (#3).

Take it out and let it cool for few minutes (#4)

Using a tong or fingers peel off the skin (#4 and #5). It comes off rather easily.

I sliced it thinly for the taste test (#6).

After testing, I separated the bottom of the tongue (which has more fat and other structures) for stew and the tongue proper for sandwiches.

This was simply boiled but the meat had a very nice soft texture and the flavor from the black pepper I used came through strongly. My wife said this is very close to what she remembered. She commented that if you could have beef tongue like this why would you eat the stuff served in Sendai?

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